AMD Reports a Loss on 26% Revenue Decline

Advanced Micro Devices Inc.’s third quarter results suffered from weak sales of chips for personal computers, but it disclosed a deal with a Chinese company that will provide a $371 million cash infusion and reduce future costs.

The chip maker on Thursday reported a $197 million loss in its third quarter on revenue that fell 26% from the year-earlier period. AMD recorded a $65 million write-down of some older chips in addition to a…

How Nintendo Made The NES (And Why They Gave It A Gun)

After a brief run-through of the company’s pre-digital history, the retired executive talked about how Nintendo’s TV Game proto-consoles came about from a desire to develop viable imitators of Pong and Breakout. With the translation help of Aki Nakamura, Uemura also told the crowd that Shigeru Miyamoto was initially hired as an industrial designer. The Block Kuzushi product was the Mario creator’s first industrial hardware design. “I don’t know how he became a game designer!”, Uemura chuckled.

Uemura talked about the effort that went into the creation of the Famicom–the NES predecessor that never made it out of Japan. The Famicom’s core piece of hardware was the LSI chip, which Nintendo had a hard time finding a manufacturing partner for. Ricoh was the only company that agreed to make LSI graphic chips for the Famicom. Other companies were doing the same for personal computers, which were booming in Japan. Ricoh recruited people from Mitsubishi, some of whom had worked on the TV Game 7 and TV Game 15 proto consoles. CPU and sound chips were also created. Games usually didn’t have dedicated sound chips, Uemura said, and most were only capable of producing beeps and boops. The thinking was that arcades were too noisy for anyone to appreciate good music/sound design. But the Famicom was aimed at a home market, which would be quiet, and a sound chip was deemed necessary.

Despite all the Famicom’s innovations, Uemura said that the console achieved only middling sales in Nintendo’s home country. Getting into the US market was seen as a vital move and company execs looked at various ways they could repackage the Famicom hardware to become a success in America.

The arcade success of Donkey Kong in the US augured well for a possible westward expansion but most people thought game-centric machines were dead. Consumers were pivoting en masse toward the home computer. Meanwhile, Famicom innards were used to make Nintendo’s stand-up VS. arcade cabinets. According to Uemura, Japanese players didn’t like the competitiveness of this offering but US loved it. NoA modified the cabinets without permission to make it so different Famicom cartridge game could be swapped out. This activity laid the groundwork for a positive reception of a new product.

VHS systems were sweeping the nation in the mid-1980s so designers came up with the NES’s front-loading slot as a way to make the machine look more like those tape playback devices and less like the Atari 2600. And the reason that the NES was bundled with the Zapper? It’s because Americans love guns.

The system’s name was another loaded decision

When talking about NES launch game Gyromite, Uemura said that no one liked the game–meant to be played with the system’s Robotic Operating Buddy–in Japan. But ROB. became a symbol of differentiation for the NES, a supposed innovation that showed how things had improved since the heyday of the Atari 2600.

Uemura offered a few other choice anecdotes. Talking about his early career goals, he said that he wanted to be in TV and/or audio design, with a job at Sony as his dream get. “What would’ve happened if I wound up there?!”, Uemura giggled. “We didn’t have helplines in Japan; we didn’t need that,” he also said. “But the US is a big country and it takes longer for information to get around.” So a partnership with ATamp;T spawned the helplines that gamers could call when they got stuck.

Thirty years have passed since the NES’ debut and Uemura thinks that the old games of that era preserve the play culture of the time. “You can really get the feeling of what Japanese culture was back then by playing these games.” Given how the games that attended the system’s launch have gone on to become classics, they are little pieces of culture that may very well live on forever, much like the accomplishments of the man who helped birth them.

Contact the author at evan@kotaku.com.

Ukranian Man Accused of Using Army of Infected Computers to Steal Data

A Ukrainian man has been extradited to the US to face charges that he operated an international cybercrime ring that hacked into corporate and personal computers to steal credit and debit card info and other data.

Sergey Vovnenko, 29, appeared in federal court in Newark, New Jersey, on Tuesday after being extradited from Italy. He is charged with one count of wire fraud conspiracy, one count of unauthorized computer access and four counts of aggravated identity theft.

Dell Looks to Maintain Relevance with EMC Corp. (EMC) Acquisition – Fitch

Dell Inc.s (Dell) acquisition of EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) underscores legacy technology companies drive for greater relevance in a remarkably competitive environment, according to Fitch Ratings. The deal will alter the competitive landscape in the technology space, creating increased competition for tech companies with significant complete enterprise computing services like Hewlett-Packard Enterprises (HPE), IBM, and Oracle.

Dell and EMC signed a definitive agreement under which Dell, together with its owners, will acquire EMC, a leading storage and virtualization provider, for a total consideration of $67 billion. The acquisition will result in the worlds largest integrated information technology (IT) provider by revenues and will strengthen Dells storage and virtualization offerings, providing higher profit margin growth opportunities.

The acquisition adds significant scale in storage for enterprise customers as Dell continues to pivot away from roots in personal computers (PC). Dell expects revenue synergies from the ability to offer converged infrastructure (combined storage, networking, and servers) as a result of the combination. Nonetheless, Fitch does not believe the deal in and of itself addresses top line pressures facing each company as the market shifts to cloud-based software and standardized solutions from legacy on-premise hardware products.

The acquisition should strengthen Dells competitive position among leading IT providers, including IBM and HPE, although at a time when HPE is separating from its lower growth PC and printing units to sharpen focus on enterprise markets. The 60-day go-shop period could spur large technology rivals without significant storage capabilities, including Cisco Systems (Cisco), to make a bid.

Dells already significant scale provides procurement efficiencies for memory, hard disk drives and other components utilized across the hardware business, specifically PCs, servers, and storage. The EMC acquisition only bolsters that effect.

On Oct. 13, Fitch placed the ratings for Dell and its direct wholly owned subsidiary, Dell International LLC (Dell International), on Rating Watch Positive following the announcement that Dell will acquire EMC for a total consideration of $67 billion. Fitchs actions affect $14.8 billion of total debt.

The deal is subject to customary conditions, including receipt of required regulatory and EMC stockholder approvals, and is expected to close mid- to late-2016. It also includes a go-shop provision, meaning that if EMC gets and entertains a better offer during a certain timeframe, the company will pay Dell substantial penalties. ($2.5B at onset; additional $2.5B if another deal is completed within 12 months of Dell deal termination; $4-6B additional termination penalties specified in agreement)

Microsoft Corporation Introduces “Easy Trade Up” To Boost PC Sales

In an attempt to breathe life into the dying PC market, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) has introduced a new promotion called Easy Trade Up. Under this promotion, consumers will receive a fixed cash amount for their old personal computers (PC), when they buy a new Windows 10 machine.

Initially this promotion will only be available in eight countries which include the US, United Kingdom, Canada, Brazil, Germany, India, France, and Taiwan. The company will only pay for PC and Mac machines which are not more than six years old. The exact amount the consumers will receive varies according to the country they live in and the device being traded in. Mac machines fetch around $300 and old PCs rake in $200.

The promotion consists of four steps which involves buyers visiting the Qualifying Purchases page during the five days promotion from 14 20th October 2015 and view the products that meet the new product qualifying criteria. Then consumers need to visit the Trade Up Now page, which will require them to provide some details which comprises of date of purchase, invoice/receipt number, origin of purchase, personal details, payment details, amongst others. The next requires buyers to send in their old MacBooks and laptops within the 30 days after receiving approval. The final step sees buyers claim their reward, which will be paid within 28 days of validation.

Old devices traded-in can either be laptops, all-in-one computer, Apple Imacs, and Macbooks. Machines running on other operating systems such as Linux or Unix will also qualify for this promotion as trade-in products can be running on any operating system. The only condition is that the machines need to be in working condition, undamaged, and complete with working battery supply.

This promotion comes on the back of an announcement made by Microsoft that it is starting an Ad campaign with other major PC-makers in a bid to highlight the flexibility and capabilities of the new Windows 10 machines. Other major names such as Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ), Lenovo, and Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC), and Dell Inc. are all on board for this latest Ad effort to boost PC sales. The Ad campaign is only available for US and China in the starting phase.

Microsoft has run a similar buyback program in the past; where in September 2013 the company ran a promotion to buy back Apple, BlackBerry and Android devices for $350.

This latest promotion coupled with the Ad campaign, is pursuing all points toward the aggressive growth strategy the company is adopting to promote the new Windows 10 PCs. Only time will tell whether these various marketing strategies turn out to be fruitful.

Apple holds the key to significantly changing Intel’s $150 billion business

Intels doing everything it can to become a major partner of Apples next iPhone manufacturing process, according to a report by VentureBeat.

The report says that Intel now has 1,000 people dedicated to working on this project that would potentially make Intel one of the main modem suppliers for Apples next iPhone.

Intels also trying to become the fabrication partner that manufactures the iPhones system-on-a-chip — or SOC — a microchip that combines everything from the central processing unit and modem chips to memory and graphic circuits.

The potential deal seems to only cover the modem chips and SOC manufacturing, meaning that Apple will continue to use its own A9 chips as the main CPU chip.

The report said that Apple hasnt officially signed a deal yet, but it could if Intel continues to hit its project milestones.

The rumored deal could be a significant game-changer for Intel, a $150 billion chip giant that famously missed out on the shift to mobile.

Last year alone, Intel lost more than $4 billion from its mobile business, prompting its chairman, Andy Bryant, to say, This is the price you pay to get back in and we will get back in.

A major partnership with Apple will signal Intels first step into the mobile business.

If true, this would be a huge deal on two vectors, Patrick Moorhead, president of Moor Insights and Strategy, told us. First, it would be the first time in many generations that Intel supplied the modem of the iPhone as Infineon (now Intel) did in the past.

AP

It would also signal the first time Intel would have taken on a high-volume fab customer. Intel has lower volume partners like Altera, but nothing like the volume an Apple SOC and modem would create.

A bigger mobile business could also potentially help Intel offset the losses its seeing in a shrinking PC market.

Historically, Intel has made most of its revenue by selling chips to personal computers, but the PC markets decline has caused Intels PC business growth to stall as well.

Instead, Intel has been finding growth from its data-center business, which generated roughly $4.1 billion last quarter alone.

Macintosh Classic at 25: An iconic Apple computer but for very different reasons

On this day in 1990, Apple released the Macintosh Classic, its first sub-$1000 personal computer. Jon Stapley takes a trip back twenty five years.

The kids who learn to pinch and zoom on an iPad before they learn to talk may find it difficult to envision a world of tech not dominated by Apple. Of course, anyone a bit longer in the tooth knows that times have not always been so rosy for the company, and indeed there have been times where not all that much stood between Apple and financial oblivion.

The Macintosh Classic was released on October 15th 1990, and is arguably one of the products that can be said to have turned Apple’s fortunes around.

Though these days you can pick one up on eBay for less than £100, at the time it would have cost you about $1,000. It was not notable for reinventing the wheel technologically – indeed if anything it did something like the opposite. Following several years of more and more expensive and powerful Macintosh computers (as we shall see), the Classic was one of a few models that represented something streamlined and – crucially – affordable. Christoph Dernbach of mac-history.net stresses that this represented a turning point for Apple.

‘I think you have to see the Apple Macintosh Classic in context with the LC and the IIsi,’ he says, referencing two other products released at around the same time. ‘These three Macs were designed to shore up Apples low end. They were something like the first Macs for the masses. The Classic was comparable to the Mac SE – just without the expansion slots.’

So how did Apple get to the point where getting a hit necessitated reducing the complexity of its products? To find out we need to take a trip back a few years further.

The Lead Up

The man credited with starting the Macintosh project is Jef Raskin (he can certainly take credit for the name). First joining Apple in 1978, not long after it was founded, Raskin was convinced that there could be a great future for personal computers if they could sort their human interface problems out. He envisioned a computer built on simplicity that could be bought at relatively low cost – the metaphor he used was a Swiss army knife.

His vision was to change considerably once it drew the attention of one Steve Jobs, but you can see the Raskin line of simplicity running through many Apple Macintosh computers of the early 1980s, even after Raskin left the company following disagreements with Steve Jobs (incidentally, do any reading into Apple history and you will see the words “disagreements” and “Steve Jobs” in close proximity before too long).

However, when Jobs left Apple in 1985, following disagreements with then-CEO John Sculley (we told you), the reins of product development were handed to Jean-Louis GassÃe. Formerly manager of Apple France, GassÃe was a solid choice to begin making up the charisma deficit created by Jobs’ departure – dressed all in black and leather, dripping with Gallic insouciance, he was blessed with an extravagant excess of personality, even gracing the pages of Vogue.

Related: Is the iPad Pro a MacBook or iPad alternative?

In technological terms however, GassÃe differed from Jobs in a number of key areas. Whereas Jobs felt strongly that third-party developers should be kept out of Macintosh products, GassÃe wanted to encourage them. He wanted Macintosh computers to be bigger, to be better, to have expansion slots for software development, and to display things in beautiful colour.

Consequently, under GassÃe’s tenure Macintosh computers consistently got bigger, more powerful and more expensive. When journalists questioned his drive towards technological excess, GassÃe was icy, if not outright hostile – “We dont want to castrate our computers to make them inexpensive, was his blunt response to one question about the SE/30, on which one could spend $6,569 if so inclined.

Throughout the late 1980s GassÃe oversaw the Mac Plus ($2,600), the simultaneously released Mac II ($5,498 with 40 MB hard drive) and Mac SE ($3,700 with 20 MB hard drive), and the Mac Portable ($7,300 with hard drive).

Though GassÃe enjoyed his share of successes, the $7,300 Macintosh Portable proved an almighty flop on its release in 1989, and Apple’s share prices for the year’s end made for grim reading.

GassÃe resigned in early 1990, and a team that included future Apple CEO Michael Spindler was given his responsibilities, with instructions to please, please make something people could afford. One of the machines that resulted was essentially a repackage of the Macintosh SE, only in a body with a price tag of $1,000 (which, following the GassÃe era, must have felt positively philanthropic). This was the Macintosh Classic.

The Specs

The standard model of the Macintosh Classic had 1MB of memory and no hard disk (if so inclined you could shell out $500 extra for one with a 1MB memory expansion card and 40MB hard disk). Its 68000 processor boasted a processing speed of 8Mhz, and it also came with a 3.5-inch floppy disk drive. It used Apple’s System 6 OS.

The critical reception of the Macintosh Classic was cautiously enthusiastic. As Christoph Dernbach points out, some reviewers criticised ‘the low processor performance and the lack of the slot’, however the simplicity and the friendly price point were repeatedly praised. It was described by MacWeek as a ‘fine, inexpensive replacement for the Macintosh Plus that best embodies the original Macintosh vision six and a half years later’.

Commercially, it was a roaring success. The $1,000 price point of the Classic – which, incidentally, was the original price envisioned by Jef Raskin for his ‘Swiss army knife’ computer – propelled it towards a new userbase, so much so that Apple initially had trouble meeting demand, and had to scramble to find more manufacturing space.

The low price also put the Classic within the reach of the education sector, and many teachers and software developers were queuing up to sing its praises, relieved to have found something that was as capable as MS-DOS but more user-friendly.

The Legacy

You may not be all that surprised to learn that it wasn’t long before the Classic was usurped by a successor, the Apple Macintosh Classic II. It was discontinued on September 14 1992, missing out on having a second birthday party by just a month.

Anyone versed in Apple history of course knows that the success brought about by the Classic and its stablemates didn’t last, and by the end of the 1990s the firm would be in the dire straits that heralded Steve Jobs’ return.

However the ethos that the Classic exemplified, the Raskin Macintosh vision of simplicity, is still in place in Apple products today. Though there were bumps in the road to come, the Classic started Apple in the direction that would take it on its 25-year journey to global dominance.

Images credit: Wikimedia Commons

If you’re interested in the early days of Apple then we’d highly recommend checking out Insanely Great: The Life and Times of Macintosh, the Computer that Changed Everything by Steven Levy, a book to which we are indebted for this piece.

There are also a lot of great in-depth historical articles at lowendmac.com, and comprehensive historical Apple product specifications at everymac.com. Thanks as well to Christoph Dernbach of mac-history.net for his contributions.

Longtime Cardiologist Fired for Complaining About His Boss, Lawsuit Says

When Ruiz confronted Scheinerman about his actions, Scheinerman stated that he was the chairman of the department and he could do whatever he wanted and that if Ruiz didnt like it he could leave, according to the complaint.

Ruiz immediately reported the incidentto HR, andwas told hed receive an investigation report byMarch 31. But when that date arrived, he was fired withoutwarning and escorted off the property by a security guard, the lawsuit states. There were still two years left in his contract with the hospital.

Scheinerman allowed his personal excessive ambition, his jealous and animus toward [Ruiz] to obstruct his legal duties and encroach upon the care of [Ruizs] patients and vengefully hamper [his] medical advancements and career, the lawsuit says.

The hospital also kept two of his personal computers,wiped them of information he needed for speaking engagements and refused to forward his professional email, Ruiz statesin the complaint. It also did not pay Ruiz any severance or his bonus from 2014, he said.

Terry Lynam, a spokesman for the North Shore-LIJ Health System called thelawsuit meritless and Dr. Ruizs allegations false, sayingRuiz was firedin accordance with the provisions of his agreement with the hospital and calledthe lawsuit is meritless.

There were certain provisions in [Dr. Ruizs] contract that he violated, said Lyman, but declined to reveal what the violations were.

He added that Dr. Scheinerman, who has worked with North Shore-LIJ for nine years, has been an extraordinary clinical leader and surgeon, who is consistently recognized in state reports for his exceptional outcomes.

Scheinerman did not respond to requests for comment.Ruiz and his attorney, Gideon Cashman, declined to comment.

Ruiz is suing Lenox Hill Hospital, the North Short Long Island Jewish Health System, the Lenox Hill Interventional Cardiac and Vascular Services and Dr. Scheinerman for at least $2.5 million in compensatory damages, $7.5 million in punitive damages and $10,000 in civil penalties.

PC shipments tumble in third quarter

Shipments of personal computers continued to slide during the third quarter, as the rise in the US dollar made devices more expensive to purchase in other countries, say analyst reports from Gartner and IDC.

IDC tallied 71 million global PC shipments during the third quarter, down 10% year-over-year, while Gartner says worldwide shipments dipped 7.7% at 73.7 million.

IDC cites the transition to Microsofts Windows 10 operating system, as more people opt to upgrade their current devices. However, expect that to change in 2016 as consumers have more reasons to acquire new PCs.

The improved PC experience across user segments should drive longer-term demand for new PC hardware that is expected help stabilize the market in 2016 and beyond, says IDC analyst Jay Chou.

In the US, Hewlett-Packard was the top PC vendor, commanding a 29% share of the market, followed by Dell and Apple. Globally, Lenovo held the top spot with 20% share.

Follow Brett Molina on Twitter: @brettmolina23.

I Built a Botnet that Could Destroy Spotify with Fake Listens

Photo: Ishan Manjrekar/Flickr

Did you know you can leave a muted Spotify playlist on repeat all night and generate roughly 72 cents for your favorite band? Or that you could previously leave a browser tab of Eternify open all day and net the band $2.30?

Better yet, did you know you can program a botnet on your old laptop to generate $30 a day in fake Spotify listens?

These gratuities may seem harmless or even deserved, but they foreshadow a major vulnerability in the current model of online music streaming. Just as publishers learned about click farming, streaming music services are learning about listen farming. And if automated listening continues unchallenged, music streaming may cease to provide any meaningful income for legitimate (even popular) musicians.

Peter Fillmore, a security consultant in Melbourne, was among the first to demonstrate that automated programs could generate massive royalties back in 2013 by having software-based “robots” listen to his own (comically horrible) music nonstop.

Fillmore made around $1,000 in royalties and topped the Australian charts of streaming service Rdio, he says his motivations were benign. “I was focused more on working out what mechanisms were there to prevent this type of fraud–and what the potential payouts would be,” he told me in an email.

It was mesmerizing to watch the plays rack up

In the time since Fillmore publicized this exploit, music streaming companies have been tight-lipped about the possibility of musical click fraud. Bloggers, however, have noticed the elephant in the room. In the wake of stunts like Vulfpeck pocketing $20,000 by having fans listen to silent songs and Eternify turning streaming fraud into an app, some have entertained the possibility of what would happen if large-scale botnets turned this trickle of fake plays into a torrent.

I decided to prototype a robot with an endless appetite for music to see if Spotify could detect what it was doing.

Here is what I coded into life:

Image: William Bedell

First, a remote server used browser automation to sign up for Spotify accounts with randomly generated names, ages, and email addresses. This gave me a limitless supply of accounts to stream songs, so as not to alert Spotify by having a handful of users with inhuman amounts of activity.

A central command server periodically sent out Spotify login credentials to cloud servers (or repurposed personal computers) running dozens of Spotify clients, all masked behind virtual private networks. Each “user” logged in, listened to a few hours of music, then logged out. Their playlists were random selections from various artists I like. Then, I deployed the botnet using a patchwork of free cloud instances and my own hardware.

It was mesmerizing to watch the plays rack up. Unknown albums from minor celebrities I adore suddenly had tens of thousands of hits, where before they had virtually none. With minimal effort, I was generating $32.26 per day in royalties. Inevitably, my thoughts wandered to greed: how profitable would this music royalty factory be if I turned it on music I owned the rights to?

Data from my relatively small-scale operation suggested I could locate 50 Spotify clients and on a memory-optimized 15 GB cloud server from Amazon Web Services and fake listens for a cost of 0.003 to 0.012 cents per song. (The exact cost depends on how frequently the robotic listeners hit the “skip” button.) A royalty report I recently received from a musician colleague suggested that artists’ take for ad-supported listeners was 0.08 cents per song (this number varies over time and between publishers), putting a conservative estimate for the rate of return of automated streaming at over 600 percent, assuming that one receives all the royalties for the music streamed.

That kind of “magic internet money” puts Bitcoin mining to shame–and I don’t need to explain the nonfinancial reasons why a musician might want a slice of the 18,000 to 144,000 (again, depending on song skipping) hits a single 15 GB cloud server could generate every day.

Automated streaming is a lucrative heist involving robots emulating humans, but I did not encounter many Turing tests during my dry run. There wasn’t even a CAPTCHA or email verification when creating accounts. The barriers to entry are clearly minimal.

A Spotify representative assured me that the company employs both computerized algorithms and human review to identify albums with questionable streaming activity, but declined to tell me how many albums have been removed for suspected fraud.

We do have one data point: Fillmore’s album was taken down about six months after he began streaming songs once every thirty seconds (the minimum duration to accrue a royalty payment) from high-paying premium Spotify accounts. He suspects it was because of user complaints about the quality of his music.

One can imagine, however, that if streaming robots can approximate human listener behavior well enough, a sophisticated botnet operation could plausibly fool Spotify’s spam algorithms.

As much as I love the idea of having an army of robots working feverishly to bring me riches, my conscience prevents me from doing it. To understand why, one needs to realize where the money comes from.

Here is Spotify’s basic business model: The site takes the total revenue from ad sales, which totaled $117 million in 2014, and pockets 30 percent. The remaining 70 percent of the ad money is shared between rights holders, based on the number of plays they receive. For instance, if I held rights to 10 percent of the total free Spotify streams during 2014, I end up with 7 percent of that $117 million pot (minus publishing fees).

By adding meaningless plays to the denominator of that sharing formula, automated streaming lowers the per-stream royalty rate for all other rights holders.

Does that mean a bot wrangler would be sticking it to the record business fat cats?

Probably not.

Major music labels are insulated from streaming fraud because they negotiate a much more complex compensation package with Spotify than the simple formula outlined earlier. Sony negotiated terms including multi-million dollar advances from Spotify, and “usage-based minimums” which guarantee fixed per-stream royalty rates even if bots drag the shared-model rates to new lows.

Instead, independent musicians and small labels that self-publish would likely bear the brunt of the damage from automated streaming because their royalty rates are the most flexible. Advertisers also suffer because they are paying for ad time that is falling on robot ears.

If automated streaming continues unabated, independent artists who rely on ad-supported listeners will see their royalties shrink

We can predict how small royalties may become by thinking of the situation as arbitrage. The royalty payout for playing a song currently exceeds the cost of required server time. If automated streaming continues unabated, independent artists who rely on ad-supported listeners will see their royalties shrink, possibly to the vanishing cost of server time (0.003 to 0.012 cents per stream).

At that point, automated streaming from the cloud will become unprofitable–unless spammers decided to infect swaths of computers with malware that would quietly stream fake Spotify listens without the user noticing. This kind of malware-driven botnet is a cheap way to mimic a lot of listener activity, and could end up forcing the value of a Spotify listen down even further if deployed on a large scale. Real hackers might switch to using stolen premium accounts for even juicier payouts, and the same race to the bottom would occur at the premium tier.

If they want to save the profitability of streaming, both independent artists and advertisers should call on music streaming services to combat streaming fraud however possible. Spotify and other services could accomplish this by taking listener authenticity seriously, and perhaps by splitting revenues more fairly.

I have focused on Spotify out of familiarity, but the effectiveness of botnets in taking a cut from shared revenue pools is nearly universal. Traditional click farms make web pages look like they drive more traffic than they really do, and video streaming services already have the unpleasant task of wiping billions of suspect views from their ledgers.

But perhaps there is hope for music: I polled my musician friends on whether they would collaborate with me if I hypothetically attempted to unleash this monster into the streaming world for profit. They didn’t seem too interested in such diabolical plots. With any luck, they are a representative sample.